Meet my friend “Frick”, or maybe it’s “Frack”; they look so much alike I can’t tell one from the other. For those of you who don’t recognize them, they’re my guinea hens. I often comment, “These birds are so ugly, they’re cute.” Of course, their cuteness only goes so far. Especially when they decide to serenade me outside my den or bedroom window. Then again, that’s why we have them here at the Cross-Dubya. Without question, guinea fowl are the best alarms and bug exterminators you can have around a farm. These beautiful but silly little birds, which we’ve nicknamed “The Gooney Birds”, live on high alert and the slightest abnormality (sound or sight) sets off their alarms.
I’m certain they can hear when a flea farts, and as soon as anything in their world changes, they sound the alarm. If you’ve never heard guinea fowl, here’s a link from my friends at the Brookfield Zoo, near Chicago. It seems their favorite place to alarm is right outside the kitchen window every evening. They perch atop the A/C unit and begin their loud shrills (listen using the link above) until I tap on the window over the sink to chase them off. I’m convinced they’re screaming at me to come feed them before we put them up for the night.
As much as I would like to share more about these funny birds, that’s not the alarm I need to sound this week. Sunday, November 5, 2023, was the International Day of Prayer for persecuted Christians around the world. No one could have imagined that a mere ten days later, I would exclaim through tears, “It’s arrived.”
On that Wednesday evening (Nov. 15), before church, a young Outreach Pastor was doing what he often did. He was standing outside his church in Glendale, Arizona, (a Phoenix suburb) and sharing the gospel of Christ as he invited passersby into the church for the evening service. Instead of politely declining or walking to the other side of the street, as many do, someone shot this young man in the head.
The realization that a man of God can so irritate a spirit that they would choose to do harm, trying to silence God’s truth, seared my mind. The words of Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19, all telling of Christ’s crucifixion, rang loudly from my soul.
My heart broke when a writing friend shared this horrifying news with me, and I’ve been praying for this 26-year-old former combat medic since learning of this senseless tragedy. Not only is Mr. Hans Schmidt a minister of God’s Word, but he is also a devoted husband and father.
I spoke with an Elder in our church on Sunday morning, asking him to join me in prayer for this young man. After sharing the story, I leaned over and said, “Brother David, it’s happened, hasn’t it? Open persecution of Christians has come to America.” This most recent tragedy is further proof. My intent is to raise awareness of the ever-increasing threat to the Church. The church shootings around our nation, and disregard for the sanctity of human life, leaves us reeling. I sound the alarm today, not as a tornado siren (we’re so used to in north Texas), but as a fire alarm that we must rally to.
My thoughts have been on the past few decades of increasing Christian persecution. I’ve watched hardworking, highly qualified Christians lose out on promotions into executive positions. I’ve heard the snickers and snide remarks of “Bible-thumper” and “Jesus Freak” for much of my adult life. To avoid being labeled a Christian in the workplace or with friends, we learn not to show it, not to say anything. Some of us, sadly I’m included among those, would go to extremes to not identify themselves as belonging with those people.“If they put your faith on trial, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” -Billy Graham #FaithUnderFire #StandUpForChrist #ClosetChristians Click To Tweet
Thanks to God’s persistence and patience, I’ve become the guy who is not afraid to stop whatever I’m doing, wherever I’m at, and pray with someone who is hurting. I stand proudly in the cross’s shadow, and I will stand defiantly with Christ until He calls me home. The realization that such an action could cost me or a loved one their life is sobering. My sustaining thought is that if we must sacrifice our lives in defense of our faith in God, then it is a price worth paying. I only hope that God will use it to bring at least one more soul home.
This is not a time to shrink back but to stand fast in the face of adversity and trial. And like this brave young man, we Christians must not surrender to the fear Satan uses to silence those who strive to carry out Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).When persecution comes to your doorstep, will you answer the door? #StandUpForChrist #NotAshamed #WorthTheCost Click To Tweet
For years, I’ve advocated that we must #StandUpForChrist. We must not allow fear to grip us and deter us from carrying out Christ’s Great Commission of spreading the gospel of Christ into all the world. We must understand that whether sinner or saint, there is a cost. The cost that every true Christian must pay is dying to self by choosing His way over our selfish and sinful desires. Instead of closing this week with an encouraging thought, I’ll ask you to join me in this prayer.
Father, we can’t understand why someone harmed a young man who has dedicated his life to helping others find a closer walk with You. Yet, we accept that You have a purpose in it all. Maybe that purpose is to wake many who are slumbering through their milquetoast, make no waves, Christian lifestyle, so they notice the wave of hatred that is coming. Your Son warned that if they hated Him, they will hate those found in Him. Help us endure the trials that are yet to come, in Your name, Lord.
Father God, rather than hate the person(s) who committed this crime, let us lift them up to you. Let us petition Your Holy Spirit to convict them of their evil ways and lead them to confession, repentance, and salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Lord, we fervently pray for the miraculous recovery of Hans Schmidt and Your comfort and peace to envelop his family and friends. Let his recovery be clear that it is nothing less than the divine will of God exercising Your power and control over his life.
We ask these things in precious and matchless name of Jesus Christ, our King. Amen.
If you would like to follow the news about Mr. Hans Schmidt, here is a link to his church’s website. Victory Chapel First Phoenix | Christian Fellowship Ministries (vccf1phx.com)